U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following remarks on the Senate floor before a vote on his amendment, which would have required a 60-vote threshold to increase public debt beyond 90 percent of GDP in any given year.
“This is the runaway debt limit amendment,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “It says 60 senators have to agree before a budget can bring out national debt to more than 90 percent of U.S. gross domestic product – which this budget does every single year.”
“We saw this week the leverage a lender can have over a borrower. The President of the United States fired the president of General Motors. Well, China, Japan, and Middle Eastern oil countries already own $1.4 trillion of U.S. debt. This amendment would prevent China, Japan and the Middle Eastern oil countries from telling America how to run our business in the same way our government is telling General Motors how to run its business.”
The Alexander amendment would have raised a point of order against any budget resolution that estimates a gross federal debt exceeding 90 percent of GDP in any year covered in the budget. The point of order could only be waived by a 60-vote majority of the Senate. According to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s budget begins its first year with a total debt of more than 95 percent of GDP and grows the debt to over 100 percent of GDP in 2017. Gross debt has not exceeded 90% of GDP since 1950, when the United States was recovering from WWII.